Is Chiropractic safe? - Brain and Body Health
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Is Chiropractic safe?


The question ‘Is Chiropractic safe’ is one that almost every one of my new patients wants to know. If you asked someone who has never seen a Chiropractor before if they thought it was safe they would probably say ‘No’ and that getting your neck cracked can cause a stroke.

If you asked your GP the same question you may get the honest answer about the safety of Chiropractic…or you may not.

The fear about Chiropractic neck adjustments is that it can cause a splitting of the artery that travels up your spine to supply your brain. To play devils advocate, if the patient already had a split in their artery and they received a Chiropractic neck adjustment there is a chance that the split would get worse, however the same would also occur with checking your blind spot in your car or sneezing.


There have been several huge studies performed that look into the issue of Chiropractic causing a stroke. Their findings were;

Statistically the chances of a severe adverse reaction following neck manipulation is
only about 1 in 5.85 million adjustments. (1)
If we compare the risk of death from Chiropractic compared to opioid pain medication you are 50 times less likely to die from Chiropractic. There have also been studies presented showing that Chiropractic therapy combined with exercise is more effective at reducing neck pain and headache than medication (2)



To be fair, most people have heard a story about how ‘their friend was hurt by a chiropractor’. Unfortunately the risk of short term increase in pain after an adjustment is higher than that of getting a stroke. In my experience it is due to a lack of communication between the patient and the practitioner.
The goal of Chiropractic adjustments is to increase the movement in your spine and strengthen the muscles that support your spine. If your joints have been damaged in the past and lost some movement there will be scar tissue build up around your joints. When you get adjusted we are breaking up the scar tissue that is holding you back. Unfortunately if there is a lot of scar tissue around the joint breaking it up will cause an inflammatory response which will cause you pain, typically this will dissipate after 24-48 hours. If you are warned about this then you know what has happened. If you were not warned about this then you would assume that the Chiropractor has hurt you.
So, is Chiropractic safe? Very safe, providing you are properly tested for a split artery before getting adjusted.
Click here for more information on the American Chiropractic Associations website.
1) Haldeman S, Carey P, Townsend M, Papadopoulos C: Arterial dissections following cervical manipulation:
the chiropracticexperience. CMAJ 2001;165:905.
2) Bronfort G, Evans R, Anderson A, Svendsen K, Bracha Y, Grimm R. Spinal Manipulation, Medication, or Home Exercise With Advice for Acute and Subacute Neck Pain: A Randomized Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2012; 156(1): 1-10.
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